Song of the Andoumboulou: 60

By Nathaniel Mackey b. 1947 Nathaniel Mackey

  The vote came in early. We ignored
   it. No ballout-box auction for us...
Nub’s uninstructed dance’s bare
     feet, music we took them for.
                                                           At a
 loss with only bodies to fend with,
  nonsonant waves kept coming,
sang without wind,        saltless,
     waterless,         Nub’s inverted
 run, Nub newly vented by horns
                                                            blown
   elsewhere, bells full of insect
     husks... Nonsonant scruff held
 on to, sheerness... Nothingness
   it seemed we grabbed at, gathered,
beginning to be unending it seemed.
                                                                   We
   were beginning to be lured again,
ready to be hectored, huthered, move
  on, beginning to be uprooted again...

   A peppered expanse the country we
crossed. Space doled out so stingily
      we wept, love’s numb extremity
  the outskirts of Nuh, name whose
                                                                elision
     we embraced... A tale told many
times over, known before it reached
       us, known before we knew, un-
     backed alley of soul we wandered
                                                                  into,
       shadowbox romance it was called...
    Come of late to creation’s outskirts,
  rub’s new muse a republic of none, a
       yet-to-be band the band we were...
     We were Andoumboulou, dreamt
                                                                  in-
      habitants of “mu,” moored but
 immersed, real but made up, so much
     farther flung than we’d have thought...
    They the would-be we lay on a bed
  the size of Outlandish. Lip attesting
        lip, tongue rummaging tongue,
                                                                 took
      between finger and thumb the hem
    of her dress, flat bead of sweat, salted
                                                                         cloth...
       A hammer hit them each on the head.
     Hammered heads rang and rang without
  end...       Called it creation, called it
   their clime, close where there was otherwise
       distance,       mute endearment,        recondite
     embrace... So much farther, felt even
                                                                         so,
mouth she remembered, home. His to hear
     her tell it, hers were it his to say, whose
   book was of lengthening limbs, hers of
                                                                          the
 unquenchable kiss... A tale told over and
                                                                            over,
    long since known by heart. Lay belly to
  back, turned belly to belly, each the other’s
dreamt accompanist, music they made in
 their sleep... Frayed hem the interstice,
                                                                          time’s
    moot rule. Time’s moot rule amended,
                                                                           echoed
  advance it was
also called





             ______________

    A first unfallen church of what might've
  been. Let run its course it would have 
      gone otherwise, time's ulterior bequest... 
This they had a way of imagining,
                                                              this
    they so wished it to be. Abstract he 
      at the back of her mind, she at the 
   back of his, each the other's Nub 
       constituent, ghost of an alternative
                                                                        life... 

  They were we before we were, ancestral,
                                                                            we

     who'd never not be ill at ease. A vocation 
   for lack he'd have said, she'd have said 
longing, a world, were they to speak, be-
  tween... What wasn't, they'd have said,
                                                                         went
        away, would come back, first fanatic
                                                                          church, 
     what would
   be





                    •

    They the would-be we talking talk of
election, devotees of Iemanjá. Glass-
  green water they were in up to
                                                          their
     shoulders, each the other's moored
recess... The way she said his name stayed
   with him. More made of what wasn't
     there than what was, whispered,
                                                                came
back again... Love called out from side-
     walk to balcony, rooftop to galaxy,
                                                                   mute...
    More made of what was there than
      was there, mouths vow-heavy at
   bed's edge, lip-touch never to be done.
Never to get up again it seemed, lay
                                                                 shaken,
      endlessy commemorative advent,
                                                                   dreamt
     evanescent caress... A first unfallen
        church it might have been. Let
   run its course it would have gone
     otherwise, time's ulterior bequest...
This they had a way of imagining,
                                                             this
   they so wished it to be. Abstract he
     at the back of her mind, she at the
 back of his, each the other's Nub
      constituent, ghost of an alternative
                                                                      life...
 They were we before we were, ancestral,
                                                                           we
    who'd never not be ill at ease. A vocation
  for lack he'd have said, she'd have said
longing, a world, were they to speak, be-
    tween... What wasn't, we'd have said,
                                                                        went
         away, would come back, first afflicted
                                                                              church,
     what would be... We were caught in a
   dream whispering names we'd forget
     waking up, caught waking up or in a
dream of waking up, moot sound riffling
          our lips. Nub was a name,        was
                                                                          was
    a name,           a was a name, all moving
 on... Names came after us, roused us in
    our sleep, the ballot-box opening grinned
and grinned again, gone we'd have been
                                                                          could
        we have run... It wasn't we were stuck,
      stood frozen, transfixed, Paralytic Dream #12...
   It was waking known otherwise put running
    out of reach, nonsonance's waterless waves held
      us up, more than we could sense but
                                                                          sensed
   even so, nonsonance's
  gaptooth
slur





                    •

      Day late so all the old attunements gave
   way, late but soon come even so... A
     political trek we'd have said it was
albeit politics kept us at bay,         nothing
                                                                             wasn't
       politics we'd say. Wanting our want to
    be called otherwise, kept at bay though
     we were, day late but all the old stories
                                                                             echoed
  yet again, old but even so soon come... A
    mystic march they'd have said it was,
      acknowledging politics kept us at
  bay,        everything was mystical
they'd say. Wanting our want to be
                                                                so
      named, kept at bay as we were,
                                                                what
        the matter was wasn't a question, no
                                                                           ques-
   tion what
it was





             ______________

      Nub no longer stood but lay and we
   lay with it, earth-sway cradling our
     backs. What the matter was rocked
us, a way we had with dirt, awaiting
                                                                  what
        already might have been there... Dust...
     Abducted future... Dearth Lake's dry
         largesse... Dread Lakes' aliases, alibis,
                                                                               Death
     Lake also there... Where we were rubbed
         earth in our faces, a feeling we had
             for debris. Nub, no longer standing,
           filled the air, an exact powder, fell
                                                                         as
        we ran thru it, earth-sway swaddling
                                                                           our
     feet

Nathaniel Mackey, “Song of the Andoumboulou: 60” from Splay Anthem. Copyright © 2002 by Nathaniel Mackey. Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation.

Source: Splay Anthem (New Directions Publishing Corporation, 2006)

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Poet Nathaniel Mackey b. 1947

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

Subjects Living, Time & Brevity, Arts & Sciences, Music, Social Commentaries, History & Politics

Poetic Terms Series/Sequence

 Nathaniel  Mackey

Biography

Born in Miami and raised in Southern California, poet, novelist, editor, and critic Nathaniel Mackey earned his BA from Princeton University and his PhD from Stanford University.
 
Mackey cites poets William Carlos Williams and Amiri Baraka, in addition to jazz musicians John Coltrane and Don Cherry, as early influences in his exploration of how language can be infused and informed by music. In a 2006 interview with Bill Forman . . .

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SUBJECT Living, Time & Brevity, Arts & Sciences, Music, Social Commentaries, History & Politics

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

Poetic Terms Series/Sequence

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